Saturday, December 31, 2011

Those vacant looks!

I was on the road yet again on an errand and just ahead of my Gypsy was an open truck, overloaded with cattle, on the way to the slaughter house.

I'm always amazed and a trifle sad when I see such animal laden vehicles. Amazed because of the stoic calm that the animals invariably display despite the fact that they know their ends are near and sad, because of the lives that they've led thus far. Probably, the souls withiin the cattle know that they've to go through this life of their's as per the script of their lives written by the master script writer.

A positive way of looking at it is that man is doing these animals a favour when he slaughters them as it brings an end to their wretched lives. But were their lives really so just because we, pompous humans, think so?

There I go in a cyclic. Have I lost it? Certainly not, but whenever I see animals being herded away like this, something deep within me stirs. Wonder why?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's in giving that you're given.

I've deliberately used a line from Rabindranath Tagore's 'Gitanjali' as the heading for my thought for the day.

During my formative years, my grandparents and parents had always emphasised the need to readily give away anything that was within my powers to give. The giving had to be in a selfless manner, in that, I should not be doing so with the thought of what I'd get in return or use it for a future transaction from the recipient, in my favour! The point that was subtly drilled into me was that it took a lot of 'mental preparation' and the swallowing of ego for a person to ask of you a favour!! It becomes all the more complicated when the person happens to be someone whom you've never come across before or perhaps, it's someone towards whom you're not very favourably inclined!!!

The closest analogy that I can think of is the game of Boxing. In the boxing ring, while you've thrown enough punches to bring down your opponent and are on your way for the kill with that one final punch, you always give him the chance to recoup himself so as to eventually win after having fought on 'even' terms! In the bargain you're liable to be bloodied  but the satisfaction of having won after having played it 'correctly' makes the success even sweeter.

Coming back to my original thought, I always wonder as to what drives people to make a great show of doing a favour to another? Probably, such guys derive a sadistic and perverse delight in seeing a fellow being squirm with discomfort! And further, that they'd ask for their pound of flesh when the time came!

The bottom line's that the person seeking the favour must feel totally at ease, as though it's the most natural thing to do, by your demeanour.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Remembering Mrs. PN Panicker, my Ammachi.

We'd set off to Ambalapuzha at the crack of dawn on a pilgrimage to Ammachi's land. It was part of an ongoing process of 'cleansing' the effects caused by the spate of deaths in the family in the recent past and a visit to the family temple at the courtyard of our ancestral house was long overdue.

My Ammachi was born and brought up in the sleepy hamlet of 'Koduppana' set amidst the lush green paddy fields of Kuttanad. There's a massive banyan tree under which exists a snake temple or a 'sarpakaavu' where puja and other rites are performed even to this day! The place is in a decaying and dilapidated state and is badly in need of a face lift! The family has taken a decision to redo the temple at the earliest and has made a promise to make the visit to the spot, an annual ritual!!

It's always a pleasure to be there as there's a genuine show of warmth and affection that emanate from the present day inhabitants who're, of course, related to us but unfortunately not in touch with, on a regular basis. The only embarassment is that we tend to become celebrities(?) during that short period of time that we're there, much to our discomfort!

Our journey through Ammachi's land had begun from the Sreekrishna temple of Ambalapuzha, where a puja was performed. From there to two of our ancestral houses of 'Nalluparambu' and 'Maliekalparambu' was a journey through intense nostalgia - the latter house had been built on the requirements of the PN Panickers and has been retained in its original form(by its present incumbents whose parents had bought off the house from my grandparents) with some cosmetic changes! The pond in the backyard and the well, by the kitchen, were mute remnants of a glorious and hectic past, when the house was inhabited by my grandparents, my mom, her sisters and brothers.

Throughout our journey, the excitement that were visible in my parents is something that I shall always cherish. My dad was restricted in his movements, consequent to which, he watched many of the places from his car with an enthusiastic involvement. My mom's narration of anecdotes related to each of the places added to the overall flavour and made the journey memorable! We'd subsequently moved on to Kainakiri and finally, finished our trip at Koduppana, before returning to our respective destinations.

There was one thought that kept reinforcing within me all the while - at all these places, there must have been spots where my Ammachi's footprints still exist untampered. How I wished I could see them! Just to feel her, virtually at least!!      

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Soulful Music.

A very interesting thing happened today. Titty and Elizabeth had dropped by at my office. And they did say that one of the factors for dropping in unannounced was to surprise me and they sure did achieve that objective of their's!

Titty is from my school and when he was in class V, I was his Prefect and he was in my house during those formative years of his. I remember him to be a good sportsman but he was very shy and stayed away from the limelight. Years later, I'd met the couple at a prayer meeting where they'd taken it upon themselves to pray for Lekha while she was going through rough times, healthwise. Titty had called me up, prior to that, to announce that he and his wife would come to pray and were sure that god would take care from then on - he was not even seeking permission and that's what Titty and Elizabeth are all about. That's what gives them a special place in my heart.

Today too, they've floored me by presenting a maiden CD of hymns, cut by them. They've asked me to hear the musical extravaganza and to convey to them as to how I found it - at the earliest. Modest that he is, the lyrics have been passed on to him by god, according to him!

What do I say to such acts of kindness? I feel thrilled but much above that, totally humbled!

Thank you Titty and Elizabeth for your kindness. I shall ever remain indebted to you and take care. May there be many more spectacular achievements in your lives!!    

Monday, December 26, 2011

From the news desk!

1. Lack of Maths.

The Prime Minister has lamented the insufficient number of competent mathematicians in the country. As everyone is aware, the year 2012 has been declared as the 'National Mathematics Year' and 22 Dec, being the birthday of the mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan, has been anointed as the 'National Mathematics Day'. He was quoting statistics to underscore the fact that the number of competent mathematicians has been steadily dwindling in the country.

From the recent trends that one often hears about, the children of today are loathe to take up the study of Mathematics in higher classes. Probably, good teachers are hard to come by though I do not subscribe to this argument in toto because in a country like ours, there should be no dearth of maths teachers! It's committed teachers who can make the subject interesting to his/her students and consequently, popularise the subject.

During our childhood, knowing the tables from 1 to 16 was a must and it came in handy while carrying out tedious calculations. Today, when one finds the young ones readily taking the help of the calculators for doing simple calculations, one feels sorry for their 'addiction'! The paradox is that the western countries having realised the dipping standards of their education system have begun laying emphasis on the study of mathematics!

On a personal note, though I used to hate the subject at the initial stages(I just couldn't appreciate as to why they wanted to know the price of 100 coconuts when they already knew that of 1,000 coconuts!), thanks to maths teachers like CV Sankaranarayanan sir and JS Iyer sir in school and SH Hussainy sir and LN Jatwa sir at the Academy, I'd taken a liking for the subject subsequently.

And as our elders used to put it, a good knowledge of the subject sharpened the brains!

2. Sacking of the Army and ISI chiefs.

I could only laugh at the ridiculous bit of news that, in Pakistan, the Zardari - Gilani government is seriously contemplating the termination of the services of their Army and ISI chiefs. Ashfaq Kayani and Shooja Pasha must be having a hearty laugh at the sheer incongruity of this newsline!

On the flipside, if the news could get to be true, then we can safely surmise that democracy has gotten roots in that country. Wishful thinking though but being the eternal optimist, is there anything wrong in wishing for that miracle?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Flirting with Dame Luck!

We're on our return journey. The weather was lovely, the Cruze was purring and performing well. We're listening to some lovely music on the FM while having snatches of conversation about a lovely building, a garden that was being passed or the way a fellow traveller had beautifully gunned his car and whizzed past us. At the speeds that were being touched, we're comfortably poised to reach our home at Kochi before sunset.

And yes, we'd that break at the all too familiar farm before the incident that I'm gonna narrate!

I was cruising at 120 kmph on the fast lane. There's an autorickshaw in front and a pick up truck to my left which seemed to be doing a similar speed. No sooner had I taken off my foot from the accelerator, I realised that the rick had put on its indicator to turn off right at the break in the centre meridian that was closing in and I realised that there was no other option for me but to do a fishtail and squeeze past the pickup and the rick!

As I carried out the maneuver, I'd begun to sweat despite the comfortable air conditioned environment that I was in and every passing second seemed to be irritably long. I must have done it fairly okay because firstly, Lekha didn't find anything amiss and secondly, the pickup guy did not give me an angry hoot on his horn for the embarrassment that I'd caused!

Deep within, however, I realised that I'd been idiotic to do such a thing as it could have resulted in a major tragedy with all the three vehicles thanks to a foolish act of mine. But I suppose, Dame Luck was on my side!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Another nice drive.

The weather was nice and I'd an errand to run. It was a quick day to be spent at my sister's at Palakkad. The roads are much, much better than what they were a few months back. So, as soon as I'd returned from work and after a quick lunch, we'd hit the road without ado.

Almost at the midpoint of our journey, we usually spend sometime at a wayside farm run by the government that combines a nursery with an outlet for farm products/implements and a coffee shop that provides a variety of popular and typical Malayali snacks. It's an ideal place to shake off the boredom(?) that might creep into a long journey and to freshen up, as the rest rooms are well maintained, dry and clean!

This time was no exception as we drove into the farm that boasts of a good ambience. The attendants who're familiar with us, looked after us and thankfully, there wasn't much of a crowd at that point of time. As we set off on our onward journey, after wishing the office bearers and staff a merry Christmas, the young lady at the counter very sweetly tells us that she'd have our favourite snacks ready on our return trip and gave her number to inform her about our exact time of arrival!

It's my fervent hope that the farm continues to thrive for the years to come and attract more and more travellers, so that it becomes a universally favourite spot!! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Looking back wistfully........

Yet another Christmas eve is upon us and as the gaiety and the frolic of the festive season encompasses me overwhelmingly, I cannot help but be nostalgic about the celebrations of the past, when I was a kid and part of a huge joint family that I've talked about, time and again.

I remember the 'Neena' family who used to be our immediate neighbours and the broken boundary wall between the two houses facilitated easy and almost continuous interaction between the two families which was a boon to us, children. The family consisted of Neena's dad, mom, a brother and four sisters, out of which Neena was the eldest. Her grandmother, Neena's mom's mom and affectionately called 'paatti', was very fond of me as I used to sit and listen to her talk and always found time for her. When Neena's dad used to be on tour, me and my young uncle used to sleep at their home as 'guardian angels'! And that goes without saying, Neena, her brother and sisters used to be our playmates!!

The depth of the relationship between the two families can be understood by this one incident that I'm gonna narrate. When Neena's dad was seriously ill with 'Meningitis', both the families prayed together for his early recovery and a few of the elders from my family even kept vigil at the hospital, where he was being nursed, to augment the family's efforts and lighten their anxiety.

The family used to celebrate every festival and I used to look forward to their generous dinner spread on such occasions and eat myself silly. I can still recall the taste of the delicious Christmas cakes that Neena's mom used to bake on such occasions! Paatti and I used to maintain a covenant, according to which, I was to remain mum about the special helpings that she used to savour for me, in addition to my normal intake along with the others!

Those were fantastic days and I must hasten to add that Neena continues to be a dear friend joining us in our family get togethers even to this day, while her mom(her dad is no more) and the rest keep track of each one of us.

And yes, I do say my little prayer for Paatti everyday.   

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The twist in the tale!

Finally, the draft Lokpal bill has been tabled in the parliament by the government. As an impartial bystander, I can't understand the brouhaha being generated while discussing the piece of legislation. What appalls me is the direction that the debate is gonna take with the issue of 'quota' that has been lobbed in.

Firstly, what's the requirement of 'quotas' when no such thing exists for constitutional bodies like the CAG and the Election Commission? Its sudden introduction makes sceptics, like me, to believe that it's a case of a red herring to stall the fundamental issue of bringing out a vibrant and strong Lokpal bill at the earliest.

It also makes me go back on the universal thinking that all politicians thrive on the corrupt system prevalent and many would lose out if a strong bill were to come about! This was one way that all right minded people thought would help in cleansing the system!! However, it doesn't seem to be.

Wonder how long will we've to wait for the never ending 'tamasha' to come to an end. The government and the so called 'youth brigade' in parliament should steer the issue out of the muddle and bring about an effective bill that would ultimately establish a strong 'Lokpal'.


Reminded of the old adage, "You can fool some people all the time, all people for some time but not all people all the time". Wonder when our lawmakers will take cognisance of it? 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cold wave conditions.

The whole of North India is reeling under cold wave conditions! There has been the all too familiar news of rising death tolls and mind you, this is only what the media has covered and reported but what about the many that wither away - unreported and unsung?

Why can't we think in terms of shelters, equipped with all the basic facilities to ward off the harsh weather conditions from affecting the poor and the needy, set up near railway stations and bus stations, manned by paramedics and voluntary workers? The expectant looks coupled with the doubts about their survival have always hit me whenever I used to go for distributing blankets and warm clothes at the makeshift shelters, during my stay in Delhi.

Firstly, why should there be anyone without a roof? Secondly, when unfortunate people go through these difficulties, it's not the time to pontificate and advise them that they should have 'worked' hard to eke out a decent living!

It's the same old story and no one seems to care. Er, lives in India are pretty cheap! We've visited that argument before!!


I'm reminded of a wonderful custom that existed in Kerala and I suppose, is still followed in quite a few parts of the state. Before the main gate of the house is closed for the night, the lady of the house or anyone anointed by her, calls out for any weary passersby who hasn't had his/her supper. And if anyone were to show up, that person was provided with a full meal - in other words, the supper that the members of the household partakes.

A noble thought indeed! Why have we forgotten/are we forgetting these humane customs and traditions?

In these days of nuclear families and walled residential colonies, these acts cannot endure!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It happens only in our country?

1. Another hospital death.

An infant child died in a hospital today because the mask, supplying Oxygen for its survival, was removed. And who was the culprit? A drunken sweeper because he was 'sure' of the fact that too much of Oxygen would be harmful for the child!  Since when have the doctors abdicated their duty of taking medical decisions to the conservancy staff? It's rather strange to believe that this person was doing such an act for the first time, probably the earlier patients have been comparatively lucky!

2. Humans as guinea pigs?

It was depressing to hear about the use of human beings as guinea pigs for the trials of certain new drugs. Using human beings for such requirements is blasphemous but in this case, it's gone beyond basic decency - the trials were carried out on mentally challenged people. It's unethical and disgusting and to my mind the only punishment that needs to be meted out to the perpetrators of this unforgivable crime is death after initiating criminal proceedings. How can one be so inhuman and callous? It sure beats me!  

Monday, December 19, 2011

Banning the 'Bhagvad Gita'?

It was on a delirious note that I'd lapped up this piece of news. Rightly, there was an uproar in our parliament over the issue and for a change, the outrage was expressed cutting across party lines!

The provocation is a petition filed by the state prosecutors in a court of the Siberian city of Tomsk for a ban on the Russian translation of the Bhagvad Gita as it incites people into going to war!! Further it would provoke 'social discord' among people!!! It shows the amazing levels of ignorance coupled with a narrow minded point of view amongst people. But I wouldn't blame those state prosecutors for pursuing upon their meaningless plea.

They're ignorant and unfamiliar with the cultural ethos of India, against the backdrop of which, the essence of the Bhagvad Gita could be clearly understood and assimilated. For them, the soul taking up various forms of life till it attains purity and then merging with the universal soul is anathema, as they aren't even aware and hence do not believe in the theory of rebirths! And mind you, this argument touches upon only one of the many aspects of life touched upon in the sacred book.

It's my sincere hope that the plea is rejected by the court of Tomsk failing which, the Indian government must resolve the issue diplomatically with the Russian government, in favour of the scripture.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

All in a day!

Saw the movie '3 Idiots' yet again this evening. I don't tire seeing it because there are many incidents shown in the film that reminds me of my days as a cadet at the NDA. Reminiscing about it now, I'm amazed at the restraint and calm exhibited by me those days.

Let me recollect my first day at the Academy. My train had reached the then 'Poona' station by 8 AM and there were a few others like me who had reported to the 'reception counter' set up for the purpose. The young and smart looking army Captain on duty did not seem to be happy at our turn out! He'd us don our neckties before filling us up in the olive green coloured buses of the Academy. The 17 km journey was incident free and as each signboard, enroute, depicted the exact distance alongwith a tantalizing view of our abode for the next three years, the butterflies in my stomach had attained a fair amount of excitement.

Soon the buses had come to a halt at the main entrance to the cadets' mess where the Deputy Commandant(Depcom as he was commonly known) - the then Commodore Ronnie Pereira - was at hand to receive us. He then made it very clear, over hot chocolate and biscuits, that we'd be made men within no time - worthy of the country and the service - towards which fagging by the seniors was an essential must and that he neither expected us to give up nor squeak while going through the process! I was the lone guy in that group to be assigned to 'H' for Hunter squadron and the tall, blue eyed and tough civilian bearer, Hari Singh, had lifted my black steel trunk and hold all on his head with the airbag slung on his right shoulder as he led the way to my new home. No sooner had we crossed the main road in front of the mess did Hari Singh and me have a role reversal (at his insistence) and on surveying the scenes around I could see that my friends had also eased into similar roles.

I was stopped at the squadron's entrance, as I was poised to put my first foot into the longish corridor, by a loud voice which directed me to commence front rolling and I obeyed the order without giving it a second thought. Meanwhile, Hari Singh had collected my personal effects and put them away in cabin 16 that had been earmarked for me. I rolled and I rolled and I rolled up and down the corridor - had lost count by then - puking a few times in the bargain and that senior made me clean up the soil with my handkerchief every time it happened (why he did that to me that day defies an answer to this date but what I remember was at the 'end of term social', as per tradition, when juniors could 'deal' with their seniors and when he'd offered himself to me, I remember hitting him with a knotted towel continuously with tears streaming from my eyes, as that act of hitting him was actually hurting me!!). I must hasten to add that he became my friend consequent to that.

*                                            *                                                 *

In between, there were other activities like the famous 'Academy haircut' at the end of which yours truly resembled a convict in prison, the issue of bicycles which spent a good amount of time on my shoulders and a lot of quizzing by a lot many others (whose identities were unknown as they're in civvies )on various aspects which were punctuated with punches and bad mouthing. By that time, we're repeatedly told that we constituted  the lowest form of existence upon this earth!

*                                             *                                                  *

My brand new Zodiac tie had by then become a miserable blob, as I'd chewed it beyond recognition, at the insistence of yet another senior! Alternate hot and cold water showers, followed by cycle lifts at the inner quadrangle in the cold, breezy January evening of Poona made my acclimatization process with the weather complete.

*                                             *                                                   *

At the end of it all, as I lay on my bed absolutely devoid of any hard feeling towards the seniors that I'd come across that day, I knew that I was learning the art of survivability. It was childish and outright silly to exhibit one's tears in front of the others while going through tough times. They're only meant for the pillows carried out in the darkness, after lights out and it was an art perfected at school!

And my first day at the Academy had become history!!   

Saturday, December 17, 2011


We happened to see the Malayalam movie 'Beautiful' this evening. A nicely scripted movie, matured and studied acting by all the protagonists made it an interesting viewing. May there be many more movies of this genre and I only hope that the trend of the Malayalam movies is on a path to revival.

The film pans the unusual story of Steven(paralysed from the neck downwards, owns riches worth hundreds of crores and portrayed by Jayasurya), John(an aspiring band leader with a gifted voice and portrayed by Anup Menon - incidentally, the film is scripted by him) and Anjali(the comely looking home nurse and portrayed by newcomer, Meghna). It has been made on a shoestring budget but must have raked in the moolah, many times over its production costs, thanks to its overwhelming mass appeal!

Just goes to show that any movie with a good story would be accepted wholeheartedly by the viewers, provided it's made well. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Emotions, experiences......uncut!

Today, I'm gonna talk of two divergent observations of mine thanks to the events that had happened this morning and I must say that they've further enriched my life. So, here I go.

1. There's a child in everyone of us.

As I was going around doing my usual morning chores at home, I heard peels of girlish laughter and a little kid's excited howls from the children's park below my window. The expressions on the young mother's face(she was doing a reciprocal up a spiralling slide and thoroughly enjoying it) and her young daughter(a little over two years and who was perched atop a horse of the adjacent merry-go-round) were invaluable and I didn't want to miss an ideal photographic situation. I'd that desperate itch to can those genuine emotions for posterity and armed with my camera, but without giving them the feel that they're being pried upon(?), I took a few snaps of the twosome.

It was only then that I met the mother to tell her about my surreptitious deed! Thankfully, she didn't mind my foray into her privacy and gave her ex-post-facto consent! And I felt pleased as Punch that I'd done something worthwhile after a long time.

I'm a rookie photographer too, you see!!

2. In search of the elusive.

I've come across numerous people who resort to various methods towards attainment of peace in their lives. The conflict in personal requirements, coupled with the pressures of everyday life, drive many to seek solace from sources based on the information passed on to them by good friends and relatives. I shall not sit in judgement on many of these conglomerations as I'm neither aware of their intentions nor their efficacy and I'm a firm believer that one has to find one's inner peace oneself as one does not, repeat not, require an usher for its attainment. One's eyes and ears need to be open at all times to assimilate the happenings around oneself which is the greatest education!

This friend of mine narrated her experiences on being part of such a conglomeration, where she started neglecting even her own family to be in consonance with the 'group's requirements'. It continued for over a year when she realised that the one thing - inner happiness - for which she'd embarked on this journey continued to be elusive and nowhere in sight and additionally, had started hurting her own near and dear ones, thanks to her actions. It was a rude awakening and then she told herself that enough was enough and cut short that journey.

Today, she's contended and at peace with herself. She does things that gives her happiness and I'm glad for her because she's gone through great pain in her life thus far!

God, do please take care of her!!    

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Another mindless killing!

The state of Jammu and Kashmir was witness to another mindless killing and the victim? Tariq Ahmad Bhat! His crime? He dared to keep his shop open defying the terrorists' diktat of shutting down the shutters.

The young man, for showing courage and defiance against the stifling and illegal order of the cowards, was mercilessly bludgeoned to death. The sad story, yet again, was that the awful tragedy had many spectators but none amongst them dared to question the perpetrators of the dastardly crime or provide help to the 'braveheart'.

Separatists like Geelani and Mirwaiz Omar, though quick to cry about the 'excesses' of the security forces, have been conspicuous by their deafening silence. They claim to be the voice(?) of Kashmir but have no feelings for their brethren. They've yet again proved that they're the worst set of cowards, anti national to the core who shamelessly enjoy the largesse of the Indian government and mouth vituperative statements against it, to suit their convenience!

Their double game is being exposed time and again, but they continue to have a free run in J&K. It's hightime that the Kashmiris tackle these frauds and put them in their rightful place by making them answer as to why they continue to let them down and also for their doublespeak!

Tariq Ahmad Bhat, I bow my head in shame, in that your fellow citizens had cowered in front of cowardly monsters when they should have been defiant and saved you. And here's wishing that your family gets the strength to tide over these difficult times.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Failing communications!

I've been exposed to increasing number of laments from parents about not having any sort of communication with their children, especially after the latter have started earning their livelihood. The most pathetic has been the case of a couple who've shifted to Bangalore so that the family could live together under one roof. The couple has a son who's a software engineer working for a well known company and a daughter, pursuing her education to earn herself an MBA. The sad fact is that they stay in three different locations within the city and are hardly in communication with each other!

I'm also witness to parents who do not want to antagonise their children in any which way, in that, they do not correct them even when mistakes/things that should be avoided are being committed! I find it preposterous because the parents are failing in their primary duty towards the children in bringing them up as good human beings!! If they're to incur their wrath then, so be it, because the same children would despise them for not having corrected them, eventually.

A careful analysis of some of the cases also confirmed my worst fears - the parents, themselves, weren't living a life worthy of emulation and their children simply 'hated' them all the while to revolt when their time had arrived.

As is evident, in many cases, the children are not to blame!


We'd a couple visiting our house this evening. It was a treat to see the father being called up by their son(an investment banker in Bombay) to have his take on a professional decision that he'd taken and mind you, the father has no clue of the youngster's profession as he confessed to us later! Could only appreciate the fantastic value system that they've imparted to their children!!  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why do we spoil the ones that we like?

Mohanlal is a gifted and versatile actor who has essayed a variety of roles in his over thirty years of celluloid life. I can't imagine the Malayalam films like 'Kamaladalam' , 'Kilukkam', 'Bharatham' or 'Kireedom' - to name just a few, there are very many more - without him. His effortless acting had brought out his histrionic abilities to the fore and mallus, the world over, have given him their overwhelming love.

For me, he's a personal favourite and I don't miss any chance that I get, to see his movies and here's wishing that we'd be able to see more of him in the coming years, in roles that we've never seen.

But what baffles me is the way some quarters are trying to deify him. I happened to read an article this morning about a non issue, if you please. It went on and on about the way he was preparing to play an exhibition cricket match that's to be played shortly. It describes the way as to how he grasped the tips given by the coach at hand in a jiffy and went on to bat, bowl and field in an unmatched manner! MS Dhoni beware, you've a serious challenger and need to have sleepless nights!!

Reminds me of an incident that had raked in a lot of controversy in the recent past and thankfully, it was abandoned at the last moment. He was slated to perform the mother of all magic tricks which could have even endangered his life! What were the organisers wanting to prove? That, Mohanlal, once he decides to take on anything, can beat the best guy in that field? And to cite yet another aspect, him having been conferred the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, has not seen an avalanche of youngsters wanting to join the armed forces, either!

 Come on, give us a break and take a walk!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Some trivia.

1. Sleep uninterrupted.

My young cousin, Sandip, is currently with us and doing a course which would help him in his career advancement. He's a Third Engineer in the merchant marine and has cut his teeth on a series of tankers, that he's been fortunate to serve on, thus far. Laid back yet keen, he's an enormous capacity to sleep in a jiffy - a trait, that he shares with me!

My friends and course mates recount the incident, while at the Academy, of yours truly having gone to sleep while travelling in a '3 tonner' as a standing passenger. I find it a bit hard to believe though, because I don't even remember the incident and I've this sneaky feeling that they're only trying to pull my leg over this peculiar quality of mine. But yes, I do hold a record of sorts - against my name - in that, I slept through an entire Sunday without interruption of any sort - not even for meals!

Sandip has a habit of being on his cellphone, throughout, talking to somebody or the other. I do admire his stamina on that score. The beauty is that he's engaged and will get married by August, next year. It's my fond hope that his optimism, his boyish innocence and his ability to sleep - almost instantly on touching the bed - continue to be his assets in the years to come.

2. Inadvertently let them down!

In our residential area, there's been an enthusiastic thrust on outdoors on the part of its inmates and age has been no barrier. It's really nice to see the huge conglomeration of people, under the glare of the floodlights, indulging in physical activity every evening with the accompanying choruses of the children at play! Meanwhile, a young lady had taken up the responsibility of teaching yoga, at 6, every Sunday morning and had told me in no uncertain terms that she expected me to join the crowd which I'd accepted. However, it was not to be!

My maasi had fetched up on Saturday evening, we'd got down to talking and by the time we hit the sack it was well past midnight and I'd quite conveniently forgotten about my promise. I felt sheepish seeing a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd at the lush green lawns, going through the paces of yoga, from my window after getting up late.

This evening, a few of them had accosted me to say as to how badly I'd let them down the previous day and I've made yet another promise that I'd definitely join them the next time. A few of them have even offered to give me a 'wake up' alarm to ensure that! Am greatly touched and humbled by their show of warmth and kindness!! Hope I don't let them down ever again!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

At a wedding.

It was a bright Sunday and the day was pretty warm. We're looking forward to attend the wedding of li'l Divya with Venugopal and we'd donned our Sunday best.

The wedding was special as Divya is the daughter of one of my classmates from school. I've seen the young lady grow up and still can't believe that she's gonna raise her own family! Time really flies as it seems that it was only yesterday that her dad and me had played cricket for our school. On a very personal level,  it was like conducting the wedding of my own child, if I'd one!!

Another enticement to attend the function was the opportunity to meet up with my classmates to reminisce the good 'ole times and be 'boys' - albeit for a short while - yet again. Altogether, a nice function and times happily spent with promises of meeting up soon.


(a) It was as if the entire Kochi had descended to be at the function and consequently, cars and private vehicles were a plenty, so much so, that we'd to walk almost a kilometer to the venue, from the parking spot. It definitely did build up my appetite!

(b) The 'sadya' was a grand affair and I must admit that I ate myself silly! I'd to compensate for it with an extra stretch of walk and exercises in the evening.


Cartoonist Mario Miranda has passed away. His cartoons had a Goan ethos and I used to be look forward to his cartoons in the 'Illustrated Weekly of India' that were essentially travelogues covering the cities of the world. One of his caricatures, the buxom Miss Frankie Nimboopani, still comes vividly in my mind.

The country has lost yet another illustrious son.

RIP, Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri Mario Miranda!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Much ado about nothing?

As I see some of the happenings in our country over the past few days, er.... weeks, I'm slowly getting convinced that we, as a country, do not like to tackle problems that stare at us but rather make a tamasha out of them and prolong the impasse for no rhyme or reason. Why do we like to keep problems on the boil, fully realising that they can have serious repercussions if left unchecked? Not to forget that our hostile neighbours are waiting for a chance to fish in troubled waters! Let's just go over a few of these incidents.

(a) FDI in retail sector. A lasting decision on a subject like this would have been possible if every player was brought on to a negotiating table to discuss the problem threadbare. Firstly,was there a requirement to bring about such a change? If the answer is a 'yes', have definitive steps to safeguard interests of indigenous products been clearly laid down? And how do we ensure that quality does not get compromised for customers like you and me - foreign or Indian, the stuff needs to be the best, with a wider variety of choice? Result - a logjam in parliament for over a fortnight!

(b) Lokpal bill. Why can't the government bring about a bill that would be applauded by the public for its efficacy against corruption? Each passing day sees charges and countercharges being traded with one side trying to act 'smart' with the other! Result - Anna Hazare's threat of a 'jail bharo' movement!

(c) Maoists. The states where this scourge is taking its toll should be brought together by the central government for a comprehensive review of the situation on the ground and lay down lasting measures - which encompasses economical, political and social package - and begin implementing them without delay. The seemingly lack of direction gives these thugs a free run in their areas of influence. Result - innocent lives continue to get snuffed.

(d) The Mullaperiyar dam issue. There are umpteen number of 'expert' committees that have given their take on the sustainability of the 116 year old dam. Why can't the central government bring the Tamilnadu and Kerala governments on the negotiating table and take a decision on the issue? To one's horror one sees politics being played with anyone and everyone giving off vituperative statements against each other's stand! Result - increasing tension amongst ordinary people staying in the immediate border between the states and an ensuing fear psychosis!

As an ordinary citizen, I often wonder as to whether there's any pattern to this game being played?

Friday, December 9, 2011

We need to change our mindset.

There are increasing incidents of nurses going public regarding redressal of their grievances. From what one surmises from the numerous instances, it's becoming increasingly clear that they're a harried lot - both, in terms of the general treatment meted out to them by the hospital management and the patients and the paltry amounts that they receive as remuneration!

Their's is the noblest of professions as they go about selflessly in looking after the ill and the infirm, ensuring that their wards at hand are provided the right medicines at the right time as instructed by the doctors. Rather than being bound by the regimen that they're officially expected to follow, most of them exceed their brief and provide hope and comfort to the patients and their attendants with their kind words and loving care. Concern is shown as though the inmates of the hospital are their own kith and kin.

No amount of praise and thankfulness would be adequate to laud the profession's founder and leading light, Florence Nightingale for her monumental contribution in the service of mankind.

What appears strange to me is that in our country, the profession has still not been given the importance and respect it deserves. Probably, it stems from our highly class conscious and hierarchical outlook that we bring to bear in society. It's to be seen to be believed as to how the profession is respected in other countries without any exception, as I reckon. Consequently, they're handsomely paid. The fact of the matter is that a sizeable majority of Malayalee nurses work abroad to earn their livelihood and are extremely happy in the environment that they work in.

Yes, we need to have a relook in the manner we perceive this profession.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I can't erase them!

On my cellphone I still retain the telephone numbers of people who've passed into the mist of time. The list is increasing and I'm not happy about its expanding girth!

The last two numbers, on the list, that would never elicit the replies from the people whom I'd love to hear any day, any time, belong to the recently deceased Leela kunjamma and Santhan kochachan. Then why do I stubbornly insist on retaining their numbers?

Being the confused bundle of thoughts that I'm, frankly, I've no plausible explanation. A few relatives and close friends have asked me about it and have advised that I should stop being stupidly sentimental since it was high time that I removed them as it served no meaningful purpose! I must admit that once I almost came to doing just that when something tugged at my being, deep within and I'd to abandon the exercise!!

I've asked my inner self, time and again, for a sane answer. Let me endeavour to put it down in words.

I feel that I owe it to them because in some way I feel that I've them and the wonderful memories that they've given me around and within me, always and every time! Without hesitation I can say that all of them have contributed to the making of my personality and my growth, thus far. So how can I be thankless and forget them just because I'll never meet them in their earthly form that I am familiar with, by erasing their numbers? Secondly, in the business of living my life, by seeing their names while scrawling the 'list of contacts' brings back pleasant memories and takes away the 'guilt' of having forgotten them - albeit for a short while - during the hustle and the bustle!   

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

At the firing range.

As part of our annual work up and connected review by an outside team, my boys went through the paces of a physical proficiency test of the gruelling 2.5 km run within 11 minutes. They're good and showed their mettle making me feel proud of them.

The subsequent serial at the firing range brought me fond memories of my Weapon Training classes at the Academy. It was actually prodded by a statement made by the 'range GI' which was and I quote, 'you should grip the rifle in such a manner that when I were to pull it out of your hands, you should come alongwith it'.

Years back at one of the Weapon Training classes, when your's truly was a cadet at the NDA, the instructor, Naik Gurung, was going through the finishing touches of the way the class was going to react during the impending visit of the Commandant. I was quite cut up because my instructor wanted me to give the first answer and that too a wrong one at that!

The Commandant and his entourage came in and Naik Gurung, in a high pitched tone asked the thundering question, 'theen man trench mein kitne admi hote hain? Cadet Rajbir(wonder why he always called me so instead of Rajeev)....? I sprung up like a jack-in-the-box and uttered idiotically, 'ek' to which the instructor's retort was 'galat'. Surinder Bal's turn was next, as rehearsed earlier, and to his answer 'do' the instructor's retort was 'thakreeban theek' and finally, Chandreshwar's answer of 'theen' elicited a delightful 'durust' from the instructor.

I'd always wonder subsequently as to why the Commandant did not have me rusticated/withdrawn from the Academy for being an imbecile and a cretin in saying it was 'ek' admi in a 'theen man trench'!!

 But jokes apart, such experiences made one handle arms and ammuntion with respect and care, as they deserve to be, to avoid any form of catastrophe!  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Are we going overboard?

It was a father's lament. He was fed up that his only son and a Chartered Accountant did not find time for his parents. He sadly remembers that when his son was young, he'd left him and his wife with his parents as he was subjected to frequent transfers by virtue of his professional requirements. In the process, the boy had grown up to be a 'mama's boy' pampered to such an extent that he could do nothing without his mother's back up in every which way!

Today, the youngster is married and both, he and his wife are busy with their respective professions. They've a two year old daughter, who's dumped(yes, this was the word used by the grandfather, in utter disgust of the entire affair) everyday from 9 to 6 with the grandparents for care while they fulfilled their professional requirements. What makes the old man feel miserable is that the first floor of his house, which was specifically built and furnished for the son to live after marriage, is lying vacant while the young couple have rented a house, a few kms away! He's under the control of his wife's diktats, the father utters with a far away look!!

Probably, his son and the daughter-in-law would like to have a bit of 'freedom'(?) from their parents and hence have taken a deliberate decision to stay away without understanding or giving a damn about their elders' anguish.

On the flip side, aren't the parents going overboard in their expectations? A bit hard to take the call.    

Monday, December 5, 2011


Bowled over by the title? It's the acronym for 'You can't be serious'!

But there are many of us who take ourselves very seriously. To cite an example, there was this incident in Punjab today when a 'sarpanch' repeatedly slapped a young lady, under the glare of the media and with thousands of people watching. And what was her fault? She'd insisted on meeting the local MP!

Who gave him the right to make decisions and dipense justice(?) and that too in this crude manner? And what made the whole scenario miserable was that none amongst the crowd had the guts to tell the uncouth guy that he was in the wrong and elicit an apology from him on the spot. His punishment, as per my personal belief, doesn't end there, it's just the beginning and it should be deterrent enough for him and people like him to never again repeat such an outrageous act!


Have not been able to get over Dev Anand's passing away. I've been assiduously following the tributes to him being broadcast on various channels and it gives me tremendous relief reliving those nostalgic scenes and movies of the greatest entertainer of them all!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The legend is gone.

1. Dev Anand passes away in London.

It was sad to hear about Dev Anand's death early this morning. A man, so full of life who had a zest for life and didn't care a damn about his age. He was forthright, gave off his candid views on things that bothered him without couching it in diplomacy and thought cinema - always and everytime!

His death is felt as a very personal loss as though someone from within the family had passed into the mist of time and that's wholly due to a host of likeable characters that he'd offered us through the years. I've enjoyed every movie of his without exception. Almost all the songs picturised on him have been superhits and will continue to be evergreen for the years to come, I'm sure. His loss is irrepairable.

My salutes to a legend who lived life kingsize!

2. Kochi rocks.

(a) At 1130 hrs this morning, Shahrukh Khan inaugurated what's touted as the world's biggest shopping complex(boasts of a 5,00,000 sq ft of built up area) at Edapalli of the Emmanuval Silks. The Kochiites pampered him to the hilt and he was delighted, that, he's promised to come here again. Once again proves that the mallus are fair in their adulation of the matinee idols!

(b) Today also happens to be the Navy Day. The 'Beating of the Retreat' by the naval band was a scintillating affair as usual and the entire evening ceremony was elegant and wonderful. The historical perspective goes something like this - it's an old military ceremony when troops disengaged from battle at sunset. The bugles used to sound 'retreat' and the troops ceased fighting, sheathed their arms and withdrew from the battlefield. It's for this reason that the custom of standing still during the sounding of the retreat has been retained to this day. Also, colours and standards are cased and flags lowered.

Similarly, drum beats recalled troops, billeted in towns and cities, to their quarters at an appointed time in the evening. And the combination of the traditions, cited above, has resulted in the colourful ceremony known as 'Beating the Retreat'.

The 'At home' in the Commander-in-chief's house subsequently was an elegant affair, as always.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Pakis finally at the receiving end.

Pakistan has always been playing the double game of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds! India was at the receiving end all this while and no amount of our placing the facts before the western nations and even the United Nations brought about even a word of condemnation from those countries much to our angst. The Americans, especially, just didn't seem to care as it wasn't affected(one can't swallow the fact that their superior intelligence was not aware of the realities on the ground) and much to our anger, continued supplying the Pakis with military hardware.

But the Americans' Afghan engagement has changed the scenario as the NATO's ground forces started feeling the heat of the Pakistani double game. Their recent attacks on certain Pakistani positions are consequential. India can only lean back and say, 'see, we've been telling you this all the while'.

But what worries me is that a 'rogue' Pakistan can go to any extent and try to foment trouble on its Indian borders, especially in Kashmir in a sheer state of desperation. A hostile China, eager to humiliate us, is a reality and can be a force multiplier for them in such a scenario.

India needs to be vigilant against any such misadventure.

Koi tumsa nahin.

One of the numbers that always makes me sit and listen is 'Dhoop nikalte jis jahaan se........koi tumsa nahin' from the movie 'Krrish'. It's picturised on Hrithik Roshan and Priyanka Chopra who enhance the beauty of the lyrics.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

The quest for the red beacon.

We, Indians, are very, very class and status conscious. We're only too eager to show off our "connections" with the people who matter. The other day, I was witness to an individual trying to contact the 'powers-that-be' while having been caught, for traffic violation, by the policeman on duty. Unfortunately for him, his cellphone refused to connect!

This class conscious behaviour of being above the ordinary gives extra ordinary qualities to those who make a habit of practicing it, like jumping the queue, speak in higher decibels while dropping names of famous(?!) people - and mind you, they dump you to be a total ignoramus if you aren't familiar with the names they happen to drop and in extreme cases, even threaten you with dire consequences at the hands of their 'godfather' if you were to ignore their request of taking a short cut! Less talked the better because it's an inherent Indian weakness!!

The clamour for the 'red beacons' on cars, coupled with a status upgrade, by our Members of Parliament stems from this unique quality that's deeply ingrained in us.

I can't help but agree to the Times point of view and I quote, 'MPs derive their stature and authority from being representatives of the people. The more faithfully they serve the people, the more they'll be respected. And they'll not need the trappings of power to be admired. If they fall, no amount of red beacons and warrants of precedence will make people respect them'. Unquote.


A lament that I'd heard the other day, 'I know Mr. Oommen Chandy, the Chief Minister but he does not know me'. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Death @ Rs. 20/-

I was aghast seeing the gory footage of the dying minutes of Kora, the rickshaw puller, at Imphal in Manipur, on the net.

The explosion of the IED, at the Sangai festival, has taken place just days before the Prime Minister's visit to Manipur and the site of the blast is about 50 mts from the new convention centre to be inaugurated by him on 03 Dec. The story has it that Kora was given a package by a terrorist group to be placed at vantage points and he'd taken a measly sum of Rs. 20/- as charges for its transportation! Perhaps, the fuse had mistimed or was Kora also an unwitting member of the dastardly crime - only the investigations will bring out the truth. But one thing is certain, he mustn't have thought, in his wildest dreams, that it would turn out to be the cost of his ticket to eternity!!

The footage initially shows him, with a dazed look on his face, in a sitting position thanks to a blown up lower torso and finally, tilting into the ground as his life ebbs away.

It's my sincere hope that this footage rallies the masses against the terrorists, responsible for the brutality. They must realise that a terrorist can never be their friend!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why the lack of sensitivity?

I'd aspired to be a doctor, once upon a time, because I used to be impressed by the way a doctor came out from the ICU, after reviewing a patient, to give the rundown to the relatives anxiously waiting outside for a word of hope to cling on. Every word that he'd utter is carefully assimilated and every advice adhered to in letter and spirit! It seemed as though the doctor had a special covenant with god regarding life and death and hence, his words were gospel!

Then came the awakening that the doctors were ordinary mortals like anyone and had their limitations, just like it is in any other profession. It came through experiences, case studies and numerous books - both fiction and non fiction - on the profession! But I must admit that Ivan Ilyich's 'Nemesis' helped me to understand and appreciate the pros and the cons of the profession to a great extent.

Having said all that, on a personal note and from what I've gathered from the experiences of a few friends and relatives, there're increasing cases of insensitive behaviour from some in the profession. I'd like to believe that these form a miniscule and also because of the fact that cases of errant behaviour are not restricted to this profession alone.

A patient's attendants have the right to know as to what the problem was(not so much in medical terminology), as to what's being done to alleviate the problem and a few words of consolation would go a long way in reducing their anxiety. One can't buy the theory that a doctor doesn't have the time to show sentiments when there are many of them who practice good bedside manners and go out of their way to interact with the attendants despite being hard pressed for time and are simultaneously busy, taming the problem at hand.

The supporting tableau.

The father of one of my boys was shifted from one hospital to another as he was in an extremely critical medical condition with a multi organ failure - the kidneys have stopped functioning with no output of urine and Creatinine levels exceeding limits, lungs working at low efficiency due to the combined effect of an abscess in the left lung and contraction of pneumonia and a heart that has already suffered a mild attack right at the beginning.

Time taken to carry out the paperwork in connection with the transfer of the patient from one hospital to the other - over two hours! Simply ridiculous and unacceptable!!

Is it because human lives are cheap in this country?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On a negative roll?

I'm disappointed at the way certain events seem to be taking place in our country, over the past few days. Naming just a few of them:-
    (a) The continuing stalemate in Parliament when there're so many important bills that are pending legislation. Why aren't the lawmakers assuming responsibility and carry out the jobs that they're supposed to do for which we've elected them?
    (b) The HRD minister's missive to government schools to introduce an 'all pass' examination system. Are we taking for granted that our young generation is brittle and hence can't absorb failures? If they aren't exposed to successes and failures from the early stage of their lives, when do we expect them to be exposed?
    (c) The continuing dilly dallying about the enactment of the 'lokpal bil'. Can't help agreeing with Anna Hazareji when he says that no one is interested in bringing about a strong bill on the subject because corruption has become a way of life in this country. Doesn't it substantiate the oft repeated charge that politics is a cesspool of corruption?

The list is endless. Is there a methodicity in this madness?

I'm an Indian who is sure that my country has all the requisites in terms of manpower and other resources to become a superpower. But, we need to understand that time is at a premium and that we do not have the luxury to fritter it away on pointless activities.

The need of the time is for everyone to rally around to make our country strong, focus on the issues that matter and strive to achieve our ultimate objective within the shortest time period. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hopelessly lost!

I've always admired men who're good at the culinary art. Probably, my admiration comes from an utter helplessness, on my part, to do something worthwhile in the kitchen. Thanks to some painstaking lessons from Lekha, I can now make a passable cup of tea!

 And there are some attendant muddles that I invariably end up with when I'm in the kitchen - like forgetting to shut down the cooking range completely(once, I'd to rush back from office to shut down the system), the normally well behaved gas lighter has a tendency to have quite a few false starts and ultimately when it does, a huge flame bursts out which could end up in a fire hazard(thankfully, it hasn't thus far) and the worst is that I end up with a burnt hand/hands simply because I'd tried to handle a utensil, that was above room temperature and I'd forgotten in the heat(?!) of the moment thanks to a misplaced, irrational enthusiasm!

My culinary attempts or the lack of it has been the butt of jokes amongst my friends, course mates and family. Quite a while back, while I was at the Academy and going through the paces of Camp Greenhorn in my II term, I'd deviced what seemed to be a novel idea to me then. Dry rations given to each cadet at the beginning of the night march were supposed to be cooked at the end of the trek and eaten before turning in for the night. While most of my friends laboured with their resources and made passable meals for themselves, I'd mixed my share of the raw rice with sugar and had the 'dry porridge' for supper giving rise to a mirthful night at the campsite, for the 'route march weary' and exhausted crowd! A few of them offered to share their meals with me seeing my efforts!! 

I take a philosophical stand on such occasions to hide my deficiency and stand rooted to the saying, "one must eat to live and never live to eat".

Lekha's off for a couple of days to attend a family function and I'm already feeling helpless! 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Chinese checkers.

The Chinese are at it again in brow beating India but this time, thankfully, our response has been appropriate and laudable. On a personal level, though, I wish our honourable President and Prime Minister had also attended the function and bestowed upon the conglomeration the sanctity that it deserves. But, I suppose, the government has followed its decision of following diplomatic niceties even while their Chinese counterparts have acted nasty by calling off the border talks, scheduled this week!

And why did the Chinese play dirty this time? It objected to the participation of the Dalai Lama at the Global Buddhist Congregation currently being held at New Delhi. It also fears the break away of Tibet from their area of influence if the Dalai Lama were to be given a free run.

One of the aims of this conference is to bring together the three streams of Buddhism viz. 'Theravada', 'Bodhisattvayana' and 'Vajrayana' on a common platform and the participants are going to debate the finer points of Buddhist Philosophy while touching upon their ideas of right living. And the Dalai Lama will give the valedictory speech on 30 Nov.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

On the highway.

It was a trip that I was dreading as my experience, made last a couple of months back, was not entirely memorable. The 23 km stretch between Mannuthi, soon after Thrissur, and Vadakkancherri was a mess with unimaginably big potholes and many a time, I was looking for the road to get to drive. That stretch happens to be through hilly features and hence has a gradient that gives the added difficulty!

And to add to that, one has to reckon with obnoxious drivers who lack etiquette. They simply do not believe in being nice to their fellow drivers as they overtake at points where there's no space whatsoever, blare their vehicular horns to momentarily stun the other and at times, lean out smirking at the momentarily dazed and hapless victim of their uncouth behaviour! When would these guys ever understand that driving is not only an activity to derive pleasure and enjoyment, but it is also meant to ensure that other fellow travellers have pleasant experiences when they pass you?

Today's trip was much better though I must say that the condition of that 23 km stretch leaves much to be desired. The road repairs have been reduced to patchwork, with substandard material, that have already started giving way at numerous places. When will these guys ever learn and it's high time that the contractors, who've presented such shoddy work, along with the officials who've cleared the quality of work are brought to book and pay for their sins!    

Friday, November 25, 2011

At random.

1. Now it hurts them!

It can only be seen as double speak when the Maoists say that their leader, Kishenji, was killed in a fake encounter. The guy deserved the death that he met with because of the violent ends that he'd imperiously bestowed upon innocent civilians and the numerous security personnel, over a period of time. Kudos to the Security forces on their success; may reason and maturity prevail and it's hoped that all the concerned parties would sit across a table, mull over the fundamental problems that incite terrorism and bring about a lasting solution to tackle the situation.

The economic backwardness of a region coupled with the perception that there's no one to guarantee their legitimate rights spur the people to latch on to such pressure groups which are led by unscrupulous guys who're in search of their 15 minutes of fame - and boy, these guys can go to any lengths at that! The element of fear is also an important aspect that forces the common man to follow them.

2. The Brits still rule us.

65 years after having attained our independence from the Brits, it's amazing to know that we're still ruled by them! I mean, we still follow blindly a slew of rules and directives established by them and naturally, quite a few of them reflect an occupant's perception of his subjugates! To cite just one example, while the Indian Railways has laws that guarantee protection of its stock and material(and rightfully so) it has none that covers the rights of its customers - the passengers!! On the flip side, I'm also aware that there are many rules that are sound and relevant to the present times and beyond - real 'monuments' that have withstood the test of time.

It's high time that the concerned people reviewed the archaic laws that are prevalent and substituted them with new ones that suit the times.     

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nice to be remembered!

24 Nov happens to be my birthday. This year it has an added spice that my day, as per the Malayalam calendar, falls immediately the day after! But as a friend had remarked, both the days coincide once, every 19 years!!

Wishes and messages came in many ways thanks to the many options available for communication. Every word uttered, every sentiment expressed and every gesture communicated, reinforced the bonds nurtured over time. And I must confess that I'm fond of receiving gifts making me look forward to my next b'day even before this day becomes history!

It was also an occasion to catch up with people with whom I've not been in contact, on a regular basis. But what I sorely missed, this time, was the call from Leela kunjamma who used to make it a point to call up early in the morning and wish me happy returns.

I'd like to believe that she's with me this day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dam 999.

This is the name of a movie, made in five languages viz. English,Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu and currently a hot topic of contention between the states of Kerala and Tamilnadu - basically, raked up by the political parties! The film encompasses the widespread havoc and destruction caused by the collapse of a dam while highlighting the story of nine characters and nine moods(the nava rasas).

The story talks of a corrupt Mayor who is instrumental in building a new dam for political gains and personal glory. It further pans on nine lives that get entwined by the looming disaster because of the dam's inherent faults!

The movie has gained currency because of the topical 'Mullaperiyar' dam situated in Kerala that provides the much needed waters for Tamilnadu. There's a growing feeling that the dam has outlived its time, hence dangerous for the people living in the vicinity and therefore, there's a consequential demand by Kerala for building a new dam to tide over the crisis while, Tamilnadu doesn't seem to be of that opinion!

To a layman like me it's another case that's being politicised unnecessarily. Why can't the concerned parties, together with the experts, sit across a table and arrive at a solution acceptable to all? River waters of the country are to be shared by the riparian states without letting narrow thoughts or differences to come into play regarding the utilisation.

The film's shoot  had begun on a jarring note, when the veteran Malayalam actor, Thilakan, who was to play the lead role was prevented from from doing so by 'AMMA', an organisation of the Malayalam movie fraternity, with which the actor had a difference of opinion! I suppose, the movie is going to be viewed by the average movie goer, out of sheer curiosity, thanks to the hype and the controversies kicked up thus far!   

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

At the children's park.

To be a child all over again. Ah, what a dream! The paradox is that I wanted to grow up pretty fast when I was a kid only to realise now as to how idiotic that want was!

After my evening walk and exercises, I had taken my young nephews - Govind and Sanath - to the park in front of our building and let them loose. Soon after, a sizeable number of children had conglomerated at the park and it was headed by none other than li'l Anoushka, my best friend and favourite. It was nice conversing with each one of them and a few of them had a lot of questions to ask like why I wasn't out in the mornings on exercise(they're rather amused when I said that I was lazy and abhorred getting up in the mornings) and curious as to how were the two kids, that I was chaperoning, related to me. In the process, they extracted a promise from me to be a spectator for their 'kabaddi' match tomorrow morning!

When one of the mother's quipped that I was the residential 'Pied Piper' immensely popular with the kids, I must confess that I did feel proud. But once again came to the conclusion that I was a dumbo at their age!  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Relationships - logical or illogical?

Human relationships have been a fascinating aspect of study and countless treatises have been written on the subject and will continue to be written as long as human beings walk upon this earth. Being an ardent and curious student myself, I've tried to analyse a few cases and I shall cite one here that defies logic by my reckoning!

The protagonist is in the legal profession. She's married, but the couple unfortunately has no children. In fact, quite a few years back she'd spoken out in a popular magazine that siring children could become a hindrance to an individual's professional growth. The family was aghast but she stood her ground. Knowing her, she still stands strongly by that conviction of her's but is actively involved into a lot of philanthropic activities concerning destitute children.

A few years back, she'd added a boy to her extended family. Actually, the boy happened to come in search of her as he felt an affinity after hearing his dad's story. His dad was her first husband but the marriage didn't last beyond a couple of months, thanks to an absence of compatibility between the two and a cantankerous mother-in-law who carried tales about the young bride succeeding in breaking the relationship, ultimately! The guy went on to marry again and this boy happens to be the son from that marriage. Over the years, he'd realised the injustice meted out to his first wife and in one weak moment, blurted out his story to his son asking him to be a source of support to her from then on. The lad found out his 'foster' mother and the rest is history. Incidentally, even the mother-in-law is repenting about her past deeds!

The subject of our story dotes on the young man and to the query as to what she expects from the relationship, her answer is strangely lacking in logic which is - "his father has realised his mistake and sincerely feels bad about it. I see in the boy, a younger version of his dad that I was head over heals with, years ago. And that's that".

Now, what do you say to that?


Is it that a part of her self still lingers in the virtual world of her first marriage and sees this boy as her son that could have been? A nice illusion, perhaps?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A lovely Sunday!

After seeing off my friend, I'd settled down to watch the programme 'Rangoli' on the national channel. The first number promised me(I get these inklings) that the day was going to be interesting. It was that lovely duet sung by Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar from the movie, 'Parasmani' and I shall reproduce the first two lines below, simply because the words are mesmeric :-

                        'Woh jab yaad aaye
                         Bahut yaad aaye'.

I was the co - host for an official lunch where I'd the privilege and honour to meet many of my friends, seniors as well as juniors, after a lapse of many years. Though I met many people, exchanged telephone numbers and addresses, the real thrill was when I met the Joses who're with me at Coimbatore and among the few who'd looked after me during those times. I must confess that I've a fondness for them and still remember the nice times that I've had at their place. As we brought ourselves upto date of each other, the years that had lapsed without communication just seemed to melt away. They both looked good and had just returned from Toronto where their children(with whom I've played when they're kids) have settled down as Canadian citizens.

The evening was spent with a simple family at their house - now, that's a tongue twister - 'Pullattinjalil' at Aluva. A word about the family - the patriarch is a manual labourer, who works in the farms nearby and he and his shy wife have established a happy and contended house with ample support from their three sons. Two out of them are married and the elder daughter-in-law happens to be our maid's daughter! She's pregnant and we'd gone to celebrate the occasion! The positive vibes in the house are infectious and their cousins, from the extended family, are talented. We'd the privilege of hearing Sandhya(a ranker from school and now doing her CA) and Dhanya(studying in class X) who're on their way to a musical nite and they're further, scheduled to perform with their team at London and Toronto during the first half of December! 

May god look after the 'Pullattinjalil' inmates and shower them with all that they wish for in the coming times! And let happiness and togetherness be their theme song forever!!

A wonderful day indeed!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

An ugly situation retrieved.

My saarthi, Sebastian, was on an errand in the unit's Gypsy. Enroute, as he's cruising on an easy speed, there was a sudden application of brakes by a couple of vehicles ahead of him which resulted in the Gypsy grazing the Alto in front.

The reaction was swift, the Alto's driver was raging mad as he insisted on Sebastian to accompany him to the nearest servicing station to do up the damages and foot the bill. Our man coolly replied that the correct action would be to report to the nearest police staion to have a case registered and drove off in the direction of the post. Much to his relief, they're transiting through a railway level cross at that instant and the Alto that was following him was left behind as the gate had closed soon after he'd crossed it. He then, headed back straight to me at my office to gave me a rundown of the incident. I realised that he'd come off without sorting out the problem with the aggrieved and therefore, there existed a possibility of future escalation when the Alto's driver accosted my man.

It did not take much time to contact the police staion covering the area of the mishap who put us on to the traffic police post where the incident was reported to the personnel on duty. He was apprised that the number of the Alto was not noted in the prevailing confusion and panic, but the colour of the car was described. The duty policeman, pleasantly surprised, had promised to convey through wireless to alert the 'sad' Alto driver that the Gypsy's 'owner' could be contacted for further action, if required, as he'd our access numbers!

As I finished with the last call, I'd a glimpse of Sebastian's face and noticed a look of relief!

Friday, November 18, 2011

A fantastic education.

Vaidee, my friend and course mate, had dropped in to spend the weekend with us. He had called up a few weeks earlier and told us of his intentions just to ensure that we'd not planned anything otherwise. He's like that - thoughtful and concerned about others.

I must confess that we're not the best of friends, at the initial stages, as we embarked on our professional lives as we'd our own circle of friends. Over a period of time, the reticence was shed and we'd become good friends discussing anything and everything under the sun. And mind you, Vaidee takes time to make friends because he has this great quality of calling a spade, a spade! A voracious reader, he's an affinity to read any book that his hands can get on and that's yet another quality that I admire in him.

And my education was on as he regaled me with the nuances of the 'Mahabhagavatham', the essential differences between the Mahabharatha and the Mahabhagavatham and quite a few of the stories of the Kathopanishad. So interesting was his narration that I didn't realise as to how time flew and as I hit the sack, well past midnight, I was sad that it had to end so soon and how I wished it could go on and on.

Thanks Vaidee, for your patience in answering many of my silly doubts and for your decision to spend time with us. We're already looking forward to more such informative teaching and discussions!   

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tributes to a Braveheart.

Sister Valsa John, a nun-cum-activist, in the Santhal Pargana region had been ordained nun with the Sisters of Charity and was involved with tribal work for the last twenty years. She was brutally silenced two days ago in Jharkhand. The brutal killing took place at Pachwara of Pakur district of Jharkhand.

And her crime? She'd the audacity to organise the 'adivasis' of the area against exploitation by the coal mafia. She had relentlessly fought for the right amount of compensation and rehabilitation of the 'adivasis', from and by the coal mining companies that were active in the area. The police has reported that a crowd of 50 'adivasis' carried out the dastardly crime - 25 of them had encircled her hut while the remaining had gone on to attack her with a combination of lathis, hockey sticks and axes! A bit far fetched to believe that the crowd had taken on the hapless nun out of vengeance and if so, why had there been no known animosity between them? There's, however, a police-added input that, over the last few years, she'd been working in an administrative capacity with a school built by a coal company.

An interesting aspect is that she fell to the brutal assault on her father's remembrance day - a native of Kochi, he'd passed away 29 years back.

Sister Valsa John, your efforts will not go in vain as the empowered 'adivasis' will surely fight for their rights, now that they're fully aware of them. May the culprits be brought to book at the earliest and punished for their misdeeds. My salutes to a Braveheart.



Today's the first of the month of 'Vrushchikam' on the Malayalam calendar. The 'Sabarimala' shrine has opened for the rush of devotees and will remain so over the next couple of months. 'Swami Saranam' rents the air and the devotees, clad in their characteristic black, are visible all over.

I, too, am following the regimen of a pilgrim through the next two months though I shall not be visiting the shrine. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

O, these ricks!

I was heading for the nearest petrol pump to put in diesel into my Cruze as it was to be handed over to the GM motors for its third and last free servicing. The roads were pretty well crowded, with vehicles, as the schools had  just wound up for the day. Therefore, mustering up a decent speed was unthinkable but disaster can still strike, under such circumstances, as can be seen from the incident that I'm gonna narrate, which left me twiddling my thumbs helplessly!

I was negotiating a crowded circle, when all of a sudden an autorickshaw - obviously in a tearing hurry - nudged its way through, overtook me - wonder how he managed that - and in the process, scraped the paint off my car's front bumper. My heart sank as I heard the sickening noise and mind you, achieved at almost zero speed! Stopping my vehicle to grab the guy's collar was a strict no-no because by doing so, I'd have attracted the wrath of the other motorists behind me who're, anyways, working on their horns rather incessantly! I'd to just grin and bear it. The autorickshaw driver seemed to appreciate my predicament fully well as he garnered speed to wriggle out of the situation.

But what slapped my ego, was the guy's backward peep, from his perch, on my car's 'by now miserable looking bumper'! Was that a triumphant look at having taught a lesson to another of those pompous(?) guys moving in sleek cars? Or was it a sympathetic look at having caused discomfort to a fellow driver? I'd never know but I'd like to believe that it's the latter!


Having narrated the discomfort caused by the rick, I must hasten to add that they're ideal for transportation if one were to be in a hurry - can wriggle through any difficult traffic situation, interaction with the driver can get you interesting experiences and the journey is comparatively, less expensive! A necessary evil!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happenings and more happenings.

1. A dangerous trend.

The CPM had organised a peaceful demonstration in front of the High Court here, yesterday, to protest against the last week's court order of sending MV Jayarajan, one of its activists, to jail for the disparaging remarks he'd made against the court for its ban on roadside political meetings. As an ordinary citizen of the country, I feel that the ban was long overdue and is a step in the right direction, because many of these demonstrations lead to anarchy on the roads and if one happened to be travelling for an important requirement, it could result in disastrous consequences depending on the nature of the errand!

Standing by their point of view, the party carried out the demonstration on the road, in front of the High Court terming it as 'people's anger' for being denied their right to protest and by doing so, cocked a snook at the court's ban on such meetings. This portends a dangerous trend - the executive, the legislature, the judiciary and the fourth estate need to be equally strong, respectful of each other's turfs and independent for a vibrant democracy!

Sadly, there has been no reactions from well meaning people of the society whose sane words and advice should have come in appropriately, while roundly condemning the incident.

2. Many happy returns!

Former Justice VR Krishna Iyer - the country's legal colossus - is celebrating his 97th birthday today. On behalf of the family, I wish him an eventful year to guide this country through trying times with his matured and sane advice. Here's wishing that God grants him good health and the drive to take on projects that would go a long way in making the life of the common man better!

On a very personal note, I feel proud to be associated with him through my grandfather's legacy.

3. A golden jubilee that every 'mallu' would be proud of.

This week saw Yesudas completing 50 years of providing a continuous treat of mellifluous music to fellow Malayalees. His dedication and humility are folklore and anything that I might say would sound too little and inadequate and hence I desist.

Here's wishing that God gives him good health for rendering further masterpieces, to the world of music, through his gifted voice.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sentiments or misplaced loyalties?

We'd to attend a function that was unavoidable despite the fact that we're in a state of mourning. Moreover, I did not have the heart to say no to these friends of ours as it was a very special occasion for them.

The function was very well organised and we'd the opportunity to meet and interact with quite a few people that we'd always been planning to do but couldn't, due to paucity of time and other distractions. So we took advantage of the opportunity that had fallen into our laps on its own and considered it as godsend! Then, as if on cue, my cellphone got insistent and as I got to take the call, the people around me had noticed that the pouch that I carry the gadget in, was in tatters and pulled my leg.

No amount of my telling them that the pouch was presented to me by a very special friend and hence, had a sentimental value that was priceless, did they deter from making fun of me. Their bone of contention was that I was stupidly emotional and sentimental over trivia, one of them even offered to buy me a new pouch at that instant which I'd to politely, yet firmly turn down - damn sweet of her, though!

The same questions were expressed when I'd insisted on spending more time at Leela kunjamma's and Santhan kochachan's homes, over the last few days. On a personal note, by doing so, I was trying to shake off the guilt of not having given more of my time for them when they're up and about!

Being stupidly sentimental as the people for whom I'm displaying emotions are not even going to be aware of it? But what about the tremendous sense of satisfaction that I derive from deep within?

Yes, I'm a confused bundle of thoughts but I ain't worried as I feel comfortable and am sure that I'm right!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Past events, yet again!

1. Moral policing.

We, mallus, have done it yet again. Shaheed - also known as Bava - all of 26 yrs, was manhandled by a few of the locals who'd objected to 'an immoral relationship' he had in the area called Mukkam, near Kozhikode. He was tied to an electric post and given the third degree treatment. Shaheed, later succumbed to his injuries at the hospital where he was in intensive care. The police also speculates that it could've been out of spite on the part of a few locals with whom Shaheed had an altercation on account of a minor accident in which his bike was involved, a few days before.

Who gave these people the right to take another's life? I hope that the culprits are brought to book without delay. It's such incidents that make me wish that we should also have the law of the 'Sharia'at' in our country!

2. Former President frisked.

It has once again come to light that Mr. Abdul Kalam, our former President, was frisked at the JFK airport, in New York, last month and the yanks have reportedly apologised for the faux pas. Why do these things get repeated, time and again? I'm sure the former President's credentials would have been clearly stated in his travel documents and if so, why did the error ever take place? Probably, the yanks are unrelenting in aspects of security which is also right, when one were to view the whole incident dispassionately and that explains the reason, that, being the gentleman that he is, Mr. Kalam went through the whole rigmarole without making a fuss!

Why don't we too take a leaf out of the Americans' outlook on security and do it strictly, correctly without fear or favour!

The ultimate.

Dateline 12 Nov.

0832h . A portion of Leela kunjamma's ashes were immersed in the serene backwaters of the Paravoor 'kaayal' by her eldest son, Gopee Krishna.

1042h . The remaining portion of her ashes were immersed in the waters of the Arabian Sea, at Paapanaasam in Varkala about 15 kms from where she'd lived.

Leela kunjamma's earthly form has thus become memory and one can only take solace of continuing to see her smiling face from the numerous snaps on the family album and fondly remember those nice moments that she'd given us! 

RIP Leela kunjamma, you shall always be in our thoughts!! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Our needs are fleeting.

Shekinah, the 16 yr old daughter of the Mathews has left for her heavenly abode.

She was supposed to have taken her class X examinations in 2010.

She was diagnosed with bone cancer and had undergone many rounds of chemotherapy at the CMC, Vellore. She was a valiant young lady who fought the fearsome illness with fortitude and a smile on her face.

Santhosh Mathew, her father and my schoolmate, struggling to hold back his tears said at the eulogy in church and I quote, "In early 2000, the matter that worried me most was Shekinah's X standard examinations. In 2011, the same time, we're praying for her life and exams were out of mind, inconsequential". Unquote.

Shows how transient needs are in life - a few of them attained and many not!

A tearful prayer for the young lady and prayers for giving the grieving parents adequate strength to tide over their difficult times.


My apologies for spreading melancholia in my last few posts but the losses that are taking place, in close vicinity, have taken its toll. Hope my readers understand! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Biju, Francis and Sukumaran.

At Thiruvananthapuram. Traffic was horrific and consequently took support of the autorickshaws - the interaction with three of those drivers were eye openers! And a fantastic education at that.

1. 0650h. From Palkulangara to Pattom.
I was to be at Vilasini kunjamma's house for the 3rd day ceremonies after Santhan kochachan's demise. Biju's auto was timely and godsend. It was a brand new, gleaming vehicle and I happened to be his first customer - an honour! His speech was slurred due to a growth in his vocal chords and the doctors have given a fifty percent chance of a successful surgery. His acceptance of the situation was something that touched me and I quote, "I'd feel quite sad if I were to lose my voice, post surgery and I'm 38 yrs old so, it doesn't matter anymore. Moreover, my wife doesn't mind, so why should I bother?" He has a son(in class 7), a daughter(in class 5) and has no complaints about life. He's promised to be in touch with me.

2. 0710h. From Pattom to 'Santhi kavadom' and back.
Me and an uncle were hurtling towards the cremation grounds to collect Santhan kochachan's ashes. The solitary car that was earmarked for the purpose was oversubscribed because a couple of officials of the Nair Service Society - the co-ordinators of the ceremony - had to be accommodated. Francis, whose auto it was, was incensed that the NSS guys were prone to taking short cuts in the conduct of the ceremony. Answering our surprised looks, he said coyly that his wife was a Nair and hence, was aware of the entire sequence. He was only feeling bad that the guys were taking advantage of our grief (and ignorance too!). Damn nice of him. People with whom you've no connection, do bat for you - yet another example to show that every human being is good deep within!!

3. 1115h. From Pattom to Palkulangara,
Sukumaran happened to be our 'saarthi' and right at the start, he gave us a rundown about the massive choke in the arterial road thanks to a roadblock orchestrated by the CPM and the consequent route that he was gonna take. A strong Congress party backer, his life is a 'riches to rags' story wherein his family had sunk a lot of money on him to fight the assembly elections in the late 70s, which he lost and attributes it to the shenanigans of his coworkers and mind you, he was a communist then! He'd some real pungent and colourful adjectives for some of its current crop of leaders. His wife, however, is a loyal communist even to this day. Presently, he finds solace that his children - Shiny and Shaiju - are stars by themselves by their excellence in the world of sports. The daughter is an IT graduate while his son is an aspiring IPS trainee!

A great day and a fantastic fund of experiences from simple, yet resolute people. Thanks, Biju, Francis and Sukumaran for the superb education delivered to me on a platter. I shall remain indebted to you!       

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm at loggerheads with my God.

Yes, I'm 'kattie' with my God. He's taken away two people that I was quite fond of within a span of a week. Leela kunjamma and Santhan kochachan were wonderful people and did no harm to anyone. And I can vouch for the fact that their personal needs were so little and they always believed in giving and spreading happiness around them. They could have lived for many more years as their medical discomfort were not acute or insurmountable!

As an elder tried to console me, I'm trying to accept the explanation that their time for being with us had come to an end and they are on to better things, according to the philosophy of life which is also the cosmic truth. According to customs and traditions practiced by us, going to places of worship, lighting the lamp in one's 'puja room' at home and saying one's prayers are taboo during the period of mourning.

I have suddenly become skeptical about the efficacy of saying prayers everyday, especially when God hasn't heeded to my pleas of not taking my near and dear ones away. I'm seriously wondering as to whether I should resume my daily prayers after the period of mourning is over!

Krishna's explanation to Arjuna in the Bhagwad Gita that every human being comes into this world on a pre-ordained script written by him, notwitstanding!!   

An unplanned gift.

Yesterday also happened to be my dad's 87th birthday. But we'd decided to keep the celebrations muted to wishing him 'many happy returns' thanks to the unexpected passing away of Santhan kochachan.

Lekha and me had reached Thiruvananthapuram directly while my parents, along with my younger sister and her daughter, had gone for an urgent social calling to be with a good friend of their's going through trying times before fetching up at Vilasini kunjamma's house. Both mom and dad were very sad seeing Santhan kochachan's   lifeless form lying in state. Their lament was as to why god had spared the elder ones like them and chosen the younger ones. I could understand their angst as both, Leela kunjamma and Santhan kochachan, used to consult them on every important thing that happened in their lives because, for them, their 'chettan and chechi's' endorsement was sacrosanct.

I could only watch my parents' anguish like a helpless spectator!

Just before my parents' departure, my dad had called me aside and asked me as to whether I could fetch him a new walking stick as the existing one was giving him problems. The needful was done as two of my nephews volunteered to go to the 'medical equipment shop' a few kms away and get the quadruped stick.

As he wielded his new walking stick, my dad tells me quietly, 'son, this is a very special birthday gift for me'. I could feel the lump in my throat because I'd definitely not planned this!